Read The Prime Minister's Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal Online


For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door.  World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of wesFor fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Charles Todd, and Anne Perry, The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent is a gripping new mystery featuring intrepid spy and code breaker Maggie Hope. And this time, the fallout of a deadly plot comes straight to her own front door.  World War II rages on across Europe, but Maggie Hope has finally found a moment of rest on the pastoral coast of western Scotland. Home from an undercover mission in Berlin, she settles down to teach at her old spy training camp, and to heal from scars on both her body and heart. Yet instead of enjoying the quieter pace of life, Maggie is quickly drawn into another web of danger and intrigue. When three ballerinas fall strangely ill in Glasgow—including one of Maggie’s dearest friends—Maggie partners with MI-5 to uncover the truth behind their unusual symptoms. What she finds points to a series of poisonings that may expose shocking government secrets and put countless British lives at stake. But it’s the fight brewing in the Pacific that will forever change the course of the war—and indelibly shape Maggie’s fate.  ...

Title : The Prime Minister's Secret Agent
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780345536747
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Prime Minister's Secret Agent Reviews

  • Julie
    2019-01-28 06:45

    The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal is a 2014 Bantam publication. Another thrilling adventure for Maggie Hope!I was a little hard on Maggie in the last chapter of this series, but upon further reflection, I think, in reality, Maggie’s character would have gone through some transformations considering all that had transpired, but I did miss the old Maggie, and hoped she would get her mojo back soon. This fourth installment finds Maggie coaching at the spy training camp in Scotland, giving herself a much needed reprieve and a chance to work through some of her heavier issues. But, of course, Maggie always manages to find herself involved in some manner of intrigue. In this case her old friend, Sarah, has fallen gravely ill, while two other ballerinas in her troupe have died from the same mysterious malady. Foul play is suspected, meaning Maggie must discover what is plaguing her friend before it's too late. Meanwhile, there are twists galore as Clara Hess awaits execution, amid rumblings of an attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.Whew! There is a lot going on in this story and I loved every minute of it!! This installment gives Maggie something, and someone, other than herself to focus on, so that gradually, she begins to regain her equilibrium. The mystery involving Sarah mysterious illness provided pulse pounding suspense, and the Clara Hess performance was absolutely riveting. I especially enjoyed the way a certain feline helped raise Maggie’s spirits and get her head back in the game. The author also explores some disturbing conspiracy theories that have been floating around for years concerning how much the US knew about an imminent attack on Pearl Harbor.Overall, I was very pleased with this chapter of the series and was relieved to see the old black dog gave Maggie a bit of peace and that her fighting spirit is back with a vengeance. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in the series!4 stars

  • Cameran
    2019-02-06 09:51

    2.5 out of 5 stars.Because it is impossible to go into The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent without high expectations after the way book three ended, I would like to advise readers to curb their enthusiasm. Book number four of this series had problems, and I think a great deal of the disappointment I received from it can be blamed on the way it was designed.After the trouble she faced in Berlin I had been eagerly anticipating my return to Maggie. I knew she was damaged after her experiences and choices, and I was pleased with this character development because it meant that she had begun to realize that her rash actions held consequences not only for herself, but for those around her. So, to heal from her ordeal Maggie has gone to Scotland to be an instructor for agents-in-training; she is hard on her recruits and she is hard on herself. Eventually she is invited to see her friend, Sarah, perform a ballet in Edinburgh, where Sarah soon falls ill -- along with two other women of the ballet -- with mysterious symptoms. The mystery of the illness and who is responsible for the exposure seemed like something more suited for a novella than a full-length novel. To me, it came off as more a side adventure to give the main character something to do while the author focused upon other things.Which brings me to the largest problem I had with The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent: Maggie is on the peripheral vision of all the other action in the book. There was a storyline with her mother that was odd and that ended even stranger. And, most importantly, there was the storyline of the United States finally becoming involved in World War II. This “involvement” storyline, however, did not translate well; it was more of a history reenactment of the collapse of negotiations between the US and Japan, and the attack on Pearl Harbor. This heavy dose of history was interwoven throughout the book; unfortunately, it came off bland and cumbersome because Maggie had no position here.The final fifteen percent of the novel was where I began to finally enjoy myself, as it returned to what makes this series work. Maggie has once again become an active participant in the war effort along with Churchill, John, and David; the next book should give her something to do, so I will look forward to it while simultaneously hoping that the structure of this story will not be revisited.(I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The expected publication date is July 1, 2014.)

  • AH
    2019-02-01 11:30

    Initial Thoughts: What an interesting read - I really had difficulty putting the book down. This is the first time I've read anything by Susan Elia MacNeal and it certainly won't be my last. I loved the backdrop of WWII to the story of Maggie Hope, a spy and trainer in the SOE. Maggie is a capable agent, haunted by the events of the previous books (which I must find and read) and I loved reading about her. The Review:Funny, a few days after I read this book, I watched an episode of The Bletchley Circle. For those of you who are unfamiliar with that series, it is the story of four women who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII. Interestingly enough, there were some parallels with that episode and this book, especially on the topic of biological warfare. Disclosure - I haven't had the opportunity to read the earlier books in this series so I jumped into this book not knowing anything about Maggie's background. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I was able to enjoy this book. I didn't feel like I missed much although I will definitely go back to the earlier books just because I enjoy this author's writing style.What caught my attention at first was the inclusion of Commander Ian Fleming discussing spycraft with another character at the beginning of the book. Yes, that Ian Fleming. The man that wrote the James Bone novels. And - get this- he drank a martini, shaken, not stirred. Awesome! I think I liked this book because I am a sucker for books about women during WWII. Any book which portrays the contribution of women to the war effort is a must read for me. I loved how the author set her story against the historical events leading up to the attacks on Pearl Harbor. But this is not only a historical book - there's also a whodunit murder mystery, too. Nicely done.As mentioned above, there are several story lines in this book. The story revolves around Maggie Hope who is in Arisaig, Scotland teaching field operatives. She's a tough teacher and rarely calls here students by name. I liked Maggie's character. She's tough, she's bright, and she perseveres. Maggie also has bouts of depression which she seems to hold off through most of the book. The secondary story also revolves around Maggie as she goes off to watch her friend Sarah perform at the ballet. When a ballerina dies, Sarah is accused of murder. Maggie investigates the murder with the tenacity of today's CSI agents. Yet another story line involves the impending attacks on Pearl Harbor and how message intercepts gave the exact dates of the attacks. I was fascinated by the work of the cryptographers who essentially decoded the messages by hand. Imagine doing that today. The Prime Minister's Secret Agent was an enthralling read. I literally read it in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait to go back to read the earlier books in the series. If you enjoy books about women during WWII, then this may be the book for you. Thank you to Edelweiss and Bantam Books for a review copy of this book. July 17, 2014 - The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is featured this month as our Jumble Your Genres Reading Challenge Book: Adult on Badass Book Reviews. Check it out! This challenge is hosted by Lovin' Los Libros.

  • Jaylia3
    2019-02-13 12:45

    Whenever I get a new Maggie Hope book everything else in my life drops by the wayside while I turn my back on the world to read. The series is moving slowly through the WWII years, this is the fourth book and it’s just getting to Pearl Harbor, but that is no criticism because the details of the changing circumstances and moods of the time are fascinating, and the story plots within the books race along. With her determined personality and a knack for codes, languages, and mathematics Maggie has come a long way since the first book where she worked as one of Winston Churchill's secretaries, and she’s become one of my favorite characters. Her brains, perseverance, and good intentions coexist with human emotions, physical limitations, and flaws in judgment so she’s no superhero, which I find a lot more interesting. In the last book Maggie parachuted into Germany where she worked undercover as a spy, encountering her Nazi mother for the first time since she was a baby. The harrowing things she discovered and had to do mean Maggie is grappling with depression and what we would now label PTSD as this book opens, but overall The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent isn’t quite as unsettling as its predecessor. Maggie has been staying at a remote estate in Scotland training spies to undertake missions like her own, but when she’s forced to take some R & R in Edinburgh because her emotional state is interfering with her work, the trip is anything but restful. The friend Maggie went to visit gets caught in a deadly scheme, and to save her Maggie forces her way into an MI-5 operation that involves murder, ballet, and biological weapons. The books in this series always have several interconnected plot-lines, which this time around involve Maggie’s Nazi mother, who’s now a prisoner in the Tower of London awaiting execution, Winston Churchill, who’s hoping the Americans will finally join the war effort, and various Japanese and American officials, who are supposed to be trying to prevent war. Ian Fleming (debonair) and J. Edgar Hoover (cantankerous) have cameo appearances. This is a work of fiction of course, but I’ve learned a lot of history from the series because author Susan Elia MacNeal has thoroughly researched the era. She lists her sources in an appendix at the end of each book, and she always makes clear where her stories incorporate historical fact and where some artistic license is in use--something I greatly appreciate.

  • Hilary
    2019-02-11 06:40

    I've yet to be disappointed with this series. Each time I pick up one of the books I'm compelled to finish as quickly as possible, and as with the previous books, there's no glorifying war or the spy trade here. Killing, or being responsible for deaths, is *hard* and the debates as to what is "necessary" can be endless. Even those with training or years of experience will suffer repercussions. But that doesn't make for a serious book, or one which is hard to read. On the contrary, these difficult topics are masterfully woven into the plot, inseparable from the characters themselves who are full of life, emotions, and great sayings. (Check out David's thoughts on Lord of the Rings and children!)I'm not an expert on WWII, but aside from a couple of minor errors (which I only noticed because I know Edinburgh) it certainly seems relatively accurate, making this an easy way to explore issues surrounding the war while enjoying some intrigue, personal conflicts and philosophical discussions.Oh yes, and characters you really care about, who can be emotional, wrong, weak, independent, or flawed, making them seem like people you actually know. It's hard to go wrong with a combination like this.Disclaimer: I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Carolyn
    2019-02-11 11:37

    YAY! Our girl, Maggie, is back on track. I do see, now, why things evolved the way they did in the previous book and what brought our girl to this point. I also understand much better why she had to go through what she did. Patience, grasshopper. It all makes sense now. Onto the next book in this excellent series, "Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidant."

  • Sharon
    2019-02-04 07:55

    In this fourth entry in the Maggie Hope mystery series, we find cryptoanalyst Maggie at Arisaig House, in Scotland, working as a trainer for her fellow agents. She is suffering from what we now recognize as PTSD as a result of her time in Berlin (ref. "His Majesty's Hope," the previous novel). Her early-morning wanderings provide the first clue about what's happening around her when she sees a dead sheep covered in unusual blisters in the loch; not all is normal in the Highlands.In the mean while, Maggie's mother, the Nazi spy Clara Hess, is being held in London pending execution ... and is showing signs of multiple personality disorder ... or is she? Not even her doctor can say for sure whether the professional actress is pretending or it's the real thing.And for the other major plot point, we have the Japanese planning their attack on Pearl Harbor, with glimpses into the diplomatic process and some speculation as to how it failed.The series is peopled with characters both fictional and non-fictional (then-SOE agent Ian Fleming, and Prime Minister Winston Churchill, just to name two), and keeps the reader's attention. Whether it's a death at a performance of the Vic-Wells ballet (at which point Maggie's knowledge of the rather obscure science/tradition of floriography comes into play), or the blithe lifestyle of the commanders at Pearl Harbor, there is always something to keep the plot moving at a good pace as well.Author Susan Elia MacNeal has created a family of delightful characters to care about, and puts them in plots that keep us turning pages well into the night. I can't wait for the next one.

  • Sue
    2019-01-31 04:42

    The Prime Minister's Secret Agent is the fourth in a series. (I have not read the earlier books.) Maggie Hope is a secret agent for the British government and in this installment she has returned to British soil after extremely difficult assignments in Europe. She is damaged and hardly knows what to do with herself. Small bits of what happened are revealed, enough to allow entry into this episode, but so much is unsaid.This entry is a tantalizing mix of historical fiction and fact as Britain continues fighting Axis powers essentially on it's own in Europe. Meanwhile, in alternating sections, we follow the steps toward December 7th in Pearl Harbor, all the diplomatic maneuvering and guessing, etc with the Japanese and American military and diplomatic corps. And Maggie is fighting her personal demons at a school for new recruits in Scotland.This is really a good book, showing evidence of much research. Two caveats, however: firstly, it may be almost over-loaded with events and information; and secondly, I don't recommend that a casual reader such as myself enter the series in the middle. There is much explanation along the way, but so much background simply is in the earlier books.My rating would be 3.5* if permitted. There is much that is very good here, but start with the first book! A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  • Karen ⊰✿
    2019-02-16 11:50

    Another good addition to the series. There wasn't a whole lot of action, this was more one of those series books that is necessary to start to bring plot lines together and set up the next books, but it was still enjoyable. I did especially enjoy the take on historical events surrounding Pearl Harbour which chose to explore some conspiracy theories (such as Churchill being aware of the impending attack but not telling the Americans as he needed them in the war).

  • Jane
    2019-01-25 12:32

    Maggie Hope is back. After the terrible events of her last mission in Berlin, she's spending time as an instructor at a training facility in Scotland. She's suffering from depression and PTSD and is basically going through the motions. In the meantime, the day of the Pearl Harbor attack is approaching and the ramp up in the espionage efforts of everyone, British, American and Japanese is on full display. After the heavy action Maggie faced in the last book in this WWII spy series, I was ready for her to have a little bit of down time. But there's so much going on that has little direct impact on her, that she became almost beside the point. There are also chapters devoted to what is happening with Clara Hess, being held prisoner in the Tower of London. But very little of Maggie. She does solve a murder, but it happens within the space of a few chapters midway through the book. To all else she's fairly peripheral.The lack of Maggie aside, I read this in one sitting. I love the time period and the focus on life in Britain during the war and how it changed the people who experienced it. And it's always nice to catch up with MacNeal's cast of characters, including the irascible Winston Churchill. I just hope that Maggie Hope's next adventure will have a little more of Maggie.

  • Judy
    2019-01-24 08:50

    It has been so long since I read the first three books in this series that it was helpful the author recaps the highlights that occurred in Maggie Hope's career as an agent for England during WWII. Maggie is an American but moves to England and receives her aunts home and decides to stay because the war has begun. This book seemed to move slower for me, though there were parts that kept my interest. It's not a bad series, but doesn't begin to measure up to jacquline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series.

  • Christina Bauer
    2019-02-07 11:53

    I've been honored to receive draft copies of Susan's books, and The Prime Minster's Secret Agent will be a stellar addition to the Maggie Hope series! WOW this is the most pulse-pounding installment yet, complete with swoon-worthy romance and all-over awesomeness! Release date set for July 1st...

  • Jennifer Kincheloe
    2019-01-25 06:45

    This was my first Maggie Hope mystery, and, oh my stars! I can't wait to read the next one. Maggie is a believable, tough, capable spy.Well done Susan Elia MacNeal!

  • Andrea
    2019-02-14 10:52

    The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent, 2014, by Susan Elia MacNeal. 4th in the Maggie Hope series.This is a fun, evocative, series set during WWII, filled with colourful characters. I’ve read all of the books in the series so far, and have always been impressed with the atmosphere the author manages to create, and with her detailed research. Maggie is an unusual young woman who was raised in America, but has found herself in England during the War, and gradually become more and more committed to using every skill she has to contribute to the war effort. So far, she has been Winston Churchill’s secretary, an agent planted to protect young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, and a secret agent dropped behind enemy lines in Germany.In this, the fourth book, Maggie finds herself in Scotland, acting as an instructor for others who will become secret agents. The bleak Scottish landscape suits her mood, as she has been traumatized by various experiences in the past. Despite all the strengths of this series, I was not particularly impressed with this entry. I have never read these books for the depth of character, but in the last book it seemed as if Maggie was becoming more multi-faceted and interesting. However, it felt like going two steps backward after that one step forward, in The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent – Maggie and her friends seemed thin again, cardboard cut-outs against the excitement of the War.Possibly MacNeal just tried to take on too much with this book – the plot has a lot of angles to it, partly because she raises big questions about what is “acceptable” when determined to conquer the enemy.I have found the series consistently enjoyable enough to still want to read the next book when it comes out, but I couldn’t entirely recommend this one.

  • Wendi (BrokenBinding)
    2019-02-13 08:27

    I would have loved to give The Prime Minister's Secret Agent 4 stars, or even 3.5, but I can't. The biggest fault in the story doesn't lie in the plot, the writing, the world building but in the formatting. Usually I would be able to overlook such a thing and enjoy the story for itself...errors are negligible when the story shines brightly enough to overcome them. Unfortunately this is not the case here. Viewpoints, locations, and story arcs are changed frequently in this story, and while I would not expect a chapter change between each change of view, the fact that there is absolutely no break between sections of the chapter was extremely distracting to read. Even additional spacing would have made a transition that allowed the story to flow. With no break between a paragraph in Great Britain and one in the U. S. or Japan, it could take a few paragraphs to pick up on the scene change. I continually found myself needing to go back and reread...there was no other way to recapture the thread of the story. It was persistently annoying enough that it merits a lower rating. I was irritated enough to be unsure just how I would rate the story with out that distraction, so I am erring on the side of kindness because I truly enjoyed the previous books and am willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

  • Stacey
    2019-02-02 07:37

    Maggie Hope continues to be one of my favorite literary characters and I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the series. I do think this would be better classified as a thriller/suspense type of book as the mystery piece of the novel usually isn't the sole aspect of the novel. While events transpired in London, the backdrop of this novel had to do with the events leading up to and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Susan Elia MacNeal does a great job of creating an enjoyable, somewhat lighter read than other WWII novels, while still peppering the novel with historical facts that allow the reader to learn something. One of my favorite series and I continue to recommend it!

  • Bibliothekerin
    2019-02-13 12:26

    My #1 disappointment with this book was its brevity. There is little plot development or character development; MacNeal flits from one locale to the next, offering only teasers. I hope she isn't heading down the path that so many authors are these days, cranking out shorter and shorter works, calling them "novellas" but which are, increasingly, short enough to be deemed short stories. This book is, in my opinion, just filler between Books #3 and #5, a huge disappointment after her last. I hope next time around MacNeal puts more time and effort into her writing.We see a few familiar faces in Book 3, but just in passing. We're told repeatedly that Maggie suffers from nightmares of her time in Germany, mainly about shooting the German boy and the death of the young theologian turned freedom fighter. Maggie is plagued with Churchill's "black dog" of depression. (He was actually not the first person to use this metaphor, btw; Martin Luther did, some 400 years earlier.) Maggie's depression is understandable, and today she'd probably be diagnosed with PTSD. If she weren't affected in some way, I'd have thrown the book out the window in disbelief. Frankly, I think Maggie's half-sister had a lot more to be depressed about, and showed more spirit and strength. Maggie was not the one living with a narcissistic, Nazi mother every day, living in a repressive society, and seeing death and suffering on a daily basis. I think she'd find Maggie's life a cakewalk in comparison. No, she has not had to shoot anyone (yet) as Maggie had, but she did something far more dangerous in my opinion: She sneaked onto a bus to see where it was taking the disabled children, and despite the horror of learning their fate, had the presence of mind to make it back without being caught, then persevere and get proof of the atrocity. But that was Book 2; back to Book 3.Maggie has her independence, her own flat in London, a satisfying career, friends in high places, is beautiful (or so we're reminded repeatedly), and has not one, but two men in love with her. Her only flaw was being unathletic. But being the Ubermensch that she is (her mother's daughter?), our heroine overcomes her weakness and becomes a veritable Amazon, able to run up and down mountains. (Next she'll be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.)If she is so smart, why don't we see more examples? There is the one odd discussion early in Chapter 1 of running vs. walking in the rain, but it feels so contrived that I can picture the author with a checklist, ticking off "obligatory example of Maggie's superior brain," in a hurry to get it out of the way so she doesn't have to think about it again for the rest of the book. It just makes Maggie look obnoxious. Maggie admits to being stalked by the same "black dog" of depression as Churchill. But if she were so depressed, wouldn't you think that she would have sought help before this? Or that Frain, or her father--someone--would have gotten her help? She is ordered to take a holiday only when her friend Sarah happens to visit Edinburgh and has mysteriously contracted anthrax. Not even one day off the farm (figuratively speaking), the change of scenery restores our heroine to her former intrepid self, and voila--she charges in once again to save the day. How fortunate that Maggie just happens to be in town! But she is clearly not 100% herself, because she fails to connect the dots between the symptoms of anthrax and the dead sheep she discovered the week before. Having gone to such a prestigious college, Maggie should be no stranger to science, so why don't the sores on the dead sheep raise a red flag in her mind sooner? The physical symptoms MacNeal ascribes to cutaneous anthrax aren't entirely correct, either. I thought that she was supposed to be so serious about her research? I was able to learn from a single Web search that cutaneous anthrax is the mildest form of anthrax, "seldom fatal with appropriate treatment." (Granted, "appropriate treatment" today means antibiotics, which were not widely available at the time.) But still: The primary symptom of cutaneous exposure is reportedly swollen lymph glands, yet none of the women exhibited this symptom. Don't you think at least one of the ballerinas, who perform with bared necks and shoulders, would have exhibited this symptom? Or that someone would have noticed the stricken girl's black sores _before_ she died? And speaking of the black sores... (grimace)The other symptom of cutaneous anthrax is supposed to be "a raised, itchy bump resembling an insect bite" (not one of these women felt itchy?) "that quickly develops into a painless sore with a black center" (per the Mayo Clinic website). This doesn't sound like the hideous, Bubonic Plague-like sores MacNeal describes. Artistic license? Maggie is close enough to observe the dead sheep not once, but twice, and the first time at close range. She has nary a scrape or sliver from scrambling across mountains of gorse on a daily basis, and magically eludes inhaling the deadly spores while downwind of the soldiers' windborn experiment. She blithely dumpster-dives in sheer stockings and pumps while her male colleague stands aside. Does she WANT to die? When she doesn't find the anthrax-containing bouquet in the trash, she just forgets about it, so we are supposed to as well, not giving the public's risk a 2nd thought. All I can say is, for such a smart chick, she can be incredibly stupid at times. As far as plot device goes, yes, it's interesting that the Brits were developing biochemical weapons then, but that should have come as no surprise to someone as knowledgeable as Maggie. The horrors of mustard gas were widely known; thousands were killed and maimed 2 decades earlier in WW1.MacNeal attempts to juggle 4 separate plotlines simultaneously and the result is a mediocre, unsatisfying mush. Interestingly, the more sympathetic characters are the individual Japanese: the reluctant admiral in Japan, Japan's weary ambassador in Washington, DC, and the young Japanese American in Scotland whose family in California was sent to an internment camp. So despite the book's brevity, MacNeal at least takes the time to give some of her characters more than comic book dimension. Her Churchill tells Maggie at one point that it would be wrong to confuse the Nazis with the German people in general. Amen to that. Yet MacNeal's Clara Hess borders on farcical, even more over-the-top than before. It wasn't enough that she suddenly reappeared from the grave in Book 2 and just happened to be a top Nazi official. She was also an opera singer, looked like Garbo, was rich, married to a famous orchestra conductor, and even had a 2nd, implausibly normal daughter. The addition in Book 3 of a supposed split personality, the 11th hour revelation that she and Frain were lovers, and the fact that he helps her escape at the end are too much. This is the guy who keeps telling Clara's doctor that she is duping him, first with her supposed catatonic state then a split personality. The doc was pretty stupid, you must admit, to give a notorious war criminal something to use to kill herself--or him. But of course, men are ever known to fall for a beautiful woman, and Clara is that, despite her increasingly 2-tone haircolor. (Meow.) For all of MacNeal's championing of women, why does she resort to stereotype and cast not just one, but two older women as villains? Not just Clara, but the over-the-hill wife as well, whose "dress gaps between buttons" (double-meow), who poisons her philandering husband's svelte young lover out of revenge. He gets off scot-free, of course, free to seek greener pastures, while the wife rots in prison. Men being men, they can't help themselves, right? Methinks the author protests not enough. Well, maybe MacNeal doesn't let men completely off the hook. She points out that Maggie's former fiance was a cad to criticize Mags for moving on after his reported death. Churchill used Maggie, too. The author lists the numerous mistakes made by American leaders that led to the attack on Pearl Harbor: Hoover ignored vital intelligence out of prejudice; officials in DC had grown soft and lazy; military leaders fought petty turf battles with other branches and ignored warnings from their staff. Unlike leaders in England who'd learned to utilize all the talent and brainpower they could, male or female, American leaders still condescendingly called women "Honey" and ordered them to fetch coffee. The matter of the international dateline snafu piqued my interest and I wonder why MacNeal didn't include that in her notes at the end? Surely I'm not the only reader curious to know if that was true. It certainly has the ring of truth, but it would have been nice to have confirmation.My favorite character has to be the cat "K" that utters "meh" instead of "meow." With a single syllable, he displays more personality than his owner. In the final analysis, "meh" pretty well sums up how I felt about this book, too.

  • Charlie Smith
    2019-02-10 05:33

    How do I love Susan Elia MacNeal's Maggie Hope series? Let me count the ways.1) The quality of the writing is top-notch. Not just the prose, which is intelligent and interesting and smooth like a deliciously aged, perfected glass of wine, but also the plotting which is intricate and grounded in logic and possibility and there are never any of those last minute surprise solutions which come from nowhere to neatly tie up a complicated plot.2) The characters! I love how the people in this series, Maggie especially, grow and change and evolve, just as people do in real life. And, as they do, so do their relationships. Susan Elia MacNeal's writing is so in the moment and spot-on about human nature that one can't help but start to think of these characters as friends, and as with friends, one finds one's self SHOUTING advice at them, tsking, worrying, weeping, involved in their lives.3) The historical details are riveting. I have never been a history person, but Susan Elia MacNeal effortlessly weaves fascinating details and atmosphere into these stories, some of which have led me to do further research and reading on my own to learn more. 4) The world. Susan Elia MacNeal has managed to make each episode a stand alone while also connecting the series into a reality of people and connections and mysteries enriched by reading the series in order. This is the fourth in the series of which I currently own all seven but am rationing because I don't want to run out of Maggie.5) Relevance. Maggie Hope is living in a world and time where hate and horrors committed by those in power are endangering the entire human race. Some stand up to the disease of moral turpitude, while others cower or surrender to what seems expedience, staying silent and inactive in the face of amoral, criminal, repugnant, and unforgivable behavior by those in power. Maggie does not. Despite the personal cost and sorrow, the danger and the despair, she does not compromise her morals nor surrender to evil. She can teach us all a lesson now in this age of a United States being run by an election stealing fascist and his enabling party of hypocrites and bigots.And so, there are a few of the reasons I return to Maggie, and Susan Elia MacNeal's wonderful series, when I am in need of a visit with a friend and an injection of hope and belief in my life.

  • Anne
    2019-02-12 12:47

    I haven't read the previous books in this series and this book doesn't work all that well as a stand-alone. I was kind of frustrated by it. It seems more like a coda to the previous book; too much time is spent resolving previous matters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the historical setting and some of the characters. The author is good at conveying the sense of living in a time of desperation, when no one knew how things were going to turn out. I liked the set-up with Maggie teaching at the spy school in remote Scotland. She's a compelling character and clearly a lot of research went into this.But there are too many plot strands and they don't cohere. Worst of all, the mystery gets short shrift in the midst of the lead up to Pearl Harbor, Maggie's crazy German spy mother, Maggie's depression, adopting a cat, Churchill fomenting, etc., etc. It was frustrating how little of the book is devoted to the actual mystery, not to mention the obviousness of the cause of death, if not who did it. I think the author needs to pare down the number of plot elements and dig deeper into the mystery. This book would've been improved if it had just been about Maggie teaching at the school, dealing with her depression and coming out of it by solving the mystery. Instead we get a mish mash of a million other plots in a bunch of different locations unconnected to Maggie, just to tie it into Pearl Harbor and the US coming into the war, with the stupid Clara Hess character tacked on for...well, I have no idea why (see below). Also she keeps introducing characters and then dropping them. There are repeatedly scenes where a new character is the main actor but we never see them again after that scene (for example, the scene where the double agent tries to give info to Hoover; the actor who's training at the spy school). You think something more is going to happen with them and it doesn't.There was something about Maggie's depression that wasn't convincing. I don't know why. It seemed kind of superficial, or maybe it just didn't seem to fit the character, who seems very no-nonsense in the next book. Maybe the author needed to dig a little more deeply into Maggie's feelings. Just using the shorthand "the Black Dog" didn't seem adequate. As in the book that comes after this one, the story revolving around Maggie's mother, Clara Hess, is the worst part. Clara belongs in another book. She's ridiculous and over-the-top. If you watched the recent FX show, Feud: Bette and Joan, I think Clara would fit in well in an early 60's horror melodrama. As Jack Warner from that show might say, hagsploitation anyone? If I read any more of these, I think I'm going to visualize her as Bette Davis played by Susan Sarandon. I hate her character. She's ridiculous. Get rid of her. Instead, the author implausibly has her escape every situation. Also there's no connection to Maggie at all. Why is her mother even in these books? I'm not going to jump to read another book in this series, although I wouldn't mind reading the first one to see how this all gets started. Eventually. No time soon.

  • Marcie
    2019-02-12 04:38

    From Scotland to London to Washington to Pearl Harbor - the world is on the brink of America's entrance into WWII. While MacNeal is known for her exacting research, she is the first to say that the conversations and characters are fictional. However, as my family moved to Oahu less than ten years after Pearl was bombed, I can say that much of her storyline is based in fact. I grew up seeing the oil which leaked to the surface above the USS Arizona - long before a memorial was built there. And PM Churchhill had already allowed a large town of civilians to be firebombed by Germany to protect the fact that England had broken their codes. (In the book, he does not mention the name of the town, but it was Coventry.) Per usual, Ms. MacNeal's writing is compelling and heart wrenching. Any reader who has studied history knows where the tale is going, but that does not keep you from wanting to enjoy the journey.

  • Angela
    2019-01-21 09:44

    I adore this wonderfully historical mystery series. I cannot find fault in any aspect of the books. The characters both fictional and factual are so alive and believable.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-14 06:35

    This series is AMAZING! It follows a female British spy through some difficult scenarios through out the series. This books picks up months after a mission in Berlin that has Maggie trying to figure out who she is and wishing she could forget or undo what happened. She is an instructor in Scotland and her friend comes in contact with antrax. Maggie is there to help work the case and heal internally and mentally.

  • Colleen Turner
    2019-01-23 12:35

    Find my full review at Maggie Hope mysteries are one of my favorite historical fiction series to read, not only because of the intelligent, resourceful and determined main character but because of the unique and historically informative viewpoints they give to readers. Maggie has brought us into the belly of No. 10 Downing Street, through the corridors of Windsor Castle, onto the training fields of secret MI-5 facilities and behind enemy lines in Berlin. Mixed in with the historically accurate key players and circumstances we also get to feel along with Maggie as she experiences love and loss during these uncommon situations and singular time period. In this fourth installment we find Maggie healing from the horrific things she has witnessed and the losses she isn't quite ready to deal with. This is a Maggie we haven't really seen before and, to be honest, it isn't my favorite side of Maggie to see.From the beginning of The Prime Minister's Secret Agent a shroud of depression and exhaustion seems to hang over not only Maggie but the British people. They've been staying strong for so long as bombs (both literal and figurative) have rained down on them, but without an end in sight and without much hope that America will join them in bringing down Hitler, their stiff upper lip seems to be slipping. I hated seeing Maggie so down and unhappy, battling her "black dog" of depression and PTSD for much of the novel. The mystery of why and how her friend became so sick gives her something to do, but not much else really happens to Maggie during the story. More time was given to the real-life American and Japanese people surrounding the bombing of Pearl Harbor, an action that sets up Maggie's journey to America with Churchill in the next installment, than was given to any real development on Maggie's part. This isn't to say that seeing the politics behind the eventual bombing of Pearl Harbor wasn't interesting, it just wasn't what I was expecting or wanting from a Maggie Hope novel. I wanted more Maggie!This being said, there were a lot of interesting elements that kept me turning the pages. We get to learn a little bit about floriography, poisoning and secret British testing with biological warfare. We also get to see Churchill begin to unravel somewhat and see what he's willing to sacrifice to win this war. Best of all, in my opinion, is the storyline dealing with Maggie's mother, Clara - a Nazi spy due to be executed by the British for her crimes - and her multiple personality disorder that might be real and might be just another manipulation by a master manipulator. This element really helped solidify my understanding of Clara's backstory and made her even more interesting than I already found her. And let me just say the cliffhanger at the end of the novel involving Clara has me ready to jump into book number five ASAP!In many ways, The Prime Minister's Secret Agent felt more like a transition between novels than a novel itself. The concentration is more on getting the Americans involved in the war than developing Maggie's character and, while it is still an enjoyable novel, it didn't satisfy my need for the character I've come to love in Maggie. I should also note that anyone new to the series could easily pick this book up and be caught up with previous events within the first few chapters (Susan Elia MacNeal does an exceptional job of weaving the backstory in so you never feel like you're missing something) but I would definitely recommend starting with book one as each book in the series is quite enjoyable. The set up for the next novel in the series sees Maggie ready to travel back to America, not only with Churchill but with her friend David and her old flame John, and I very much look forward to seeing Maggie on her old stomping grounds, to meeting the aunt who raised her and to hopefully seeing some old friends from previous novels that didn't make it into this one. And with the cliffhanger ending I mentioned above, it's shaping up to be quite the adventure!

  • Judy Alter
    2019-01-21 07:26

    Old as I am, I'm not old enough to remember WWII. My first public memory is of Roosevelt's death, but I do remember my parents' discussions of Pearl Harbor and Churchill (my dad was a real Churchill and Roosevelt fan). Perhaps that's why MacNeal's books fascinate me so. I love the history of WWII from England's point of view. The research is impeccable, and her portrayal of Churchill is priceless, fitting all that we've heard about him. For me, the focus of this fourth book was on Pearl Harbor and the laxness that left the U.S. unprepared for the surprise attack. Here, Churchill comes off as the canny one who figured it out while Washington interceptors were still saying, "We'll deal with it next week." A continuing thread through the books--American's reluctance to be drawn into the war--is finally brought to fruition in this volume.Maggie Hope is a strange heroine--catapulting within a relatively short time span from typist to spy extraordinary, and her family roots are almost too convenient to the story. But MacNeal makes good use of her material, and the Black Dog that haunts Maggie in the early parts of this volume is believable. It's satisfying to see Maggie bounce back to involvement in life and the war effort.This installment left me a bit dissatisfied--it seemed to end so suddenly without resolution to some things, such as the relationship between John and Maggie and the unexpected fate of Clara Hess. But the book kept me up late at night, and I guess resolution of those things is to come.I didn't read the third volume of this series because the opening with children being transported from their families upset me, but I may go back now, skip that part, and find out what happened in Berlin. And I'm eagerly looking forward to the next volume, which I hear is to be titled Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante. So appropriate right now when so much attention is on the Roosevelts.

  • Susan Johnson
    2019-01-30 07:50

    3.5 stars The book centers around Maggie Hope, a spy for the British, during WWII. The book started out slowly but picked up speed. By the end, I was excited to read how it ended. MacNeal blends reals real characters with fictional to a surprisingly good result. Ian Fleming makes an appearance and Winston Churchill has a big role. The main time frame is when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. This is my first Maggie Hope mystery and I think that's a mistake. It's a series that needs to be read in order. I think I missed a lot by not reading the first books. There are a lot of references and back history that just flew over my head. Still we know Maggie went on a mission to Germany that was semi-successful. She is healing at a school in Scotland and training spies in training. She still has a bullet in her. Her mother is a German spy waiting execution in London. Maggie refuses to have anything to do with her. The other plot is Churchill trying to desperately get America in the war. Spy messages are picking up messages that Japan may attack the U.S. and it is almost comical how agencies dealt with that information. I think this is a pretty good theoryabout the bombing although I think Roosevelt knew more than the book lets on but we will probably know the complete story. The book ending leaves no doubt that the story will continue where this one leaves off. I will probably read it as I like historical mysteries but I will probably go back and read the first books before that happens. It's a pretty decent book but I recommend you start at the beginning. It's not really a stand alone book.

  • Betty
    2019-01-19 11:45

    I’m always excited when I find a new cozy mystery series, especially if the protagonist is a young woman of uncertain age. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I had anticipated.Maggie Hope is a secret spy currently instructing young hopefuls in a clandestine training centre somewhere in Scotland. She is fighting her own personal demon of deep depression left over from a previous experience in Germany. One would have to have read that novel to get the full impact of why she is suffering this condition. There is no particular plot to this particular novel other than the escalation of WWII as the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour suddenly thrusts the United States into the conflict. This volume is simply a continuation of the previous novels in the series. Therefore, although the story supposedly could “stand alone,” I didn’t find it an easy read. Throughout the entire book, there are references to earlier occurrences that I knew nothing about. Almost to the point that the reader sometimes feels a little out in left field. All the sub-plots pretty much require that one have knowledge of her earlier escapades.I think that for readers familiar with Maggie’s past adventures, the book would be quite satisfying because it is well written and the characterizations are well drawn. As this part of the story proceeds, one begins to get some feelings of compassion for the girl’s melancholia and rejoice with her as she regains her equilibrium. I did become sufficiently fond of her to consider going back and reading the earlier tomes.

  • Gina
    2019-01-27 07:43

    The fourth book in the Maggie Hope series begins in Scotland, which I loved. Gray and beautiful. That's what seems to be the gist of that landscape. Maggie is still suffering from her ordeal in Berlin, but an unexpected mystery to be solved in Edinburgh gives her new purpose. In the mean time, America is about to be pulled into the war by a vicious attack that Churchill may have known about beforehand. That was an interesting little twist. While I love the history that this series imbues, some of the back and forth perspectives became a bit tiresome. I enjoyed the book overall, however, and look forward to the next installment.

  • Cara Putman
    2019-01-29 09:46

    I really enjoyed this latest installation in the Maggie Hope Mysteries. While it's not a requirement to read the books in order, I do think it makes them more enjoyable. On to the next one!

  • Lyn
    2019-02-11 11:28

    I have enjoyed the author's Maggie Hope series. She's done her research into England during the lead-in and during WWII, the politics and the government agencies of the time. It's a very nice plus that she's also a good writer! This book sees Maggie coming to terms with the traumatic events of her previous assignment to Berlin, and her involvement in a new phase of the war leading up to December 7, 1941. I won't spoil the story for you with the details; read it, you'll find it hard to put down.

  • Dee Ann
    2019-01-26 08:37

    I really like this series, but this wasn't the strongest entry of the bunch. Maggie Hope is still mostly traumatized and depressed from the events of the previous book, and we bounce around to Tokyo, Washington and London to watch the lead-in to the invasion of Pearl Harbor, and how it will bring the US into the war. It seemed very expository, and mostly aimed at lining characters up into the places the author wants them for the next book.